A behind-the-scenes look at questions and advice from continued's #WorkFromHomeWithKids discussion
Many conversations among the continued team of late have centered around the question, “What are your best tips for working from home with kids?”
With school districts nationwide closing indefinitely to help slow the spread of COVID-19, we at continued are some of the millions of employees across the country attempting to juggle a full-time virtual job with kids at home.
While continued team members are no strangers to remote work, we don’t typically have our kids home with us for extended periods of time during the workday. Sure, we’re all accustomed to planning for summer break, and we sometimes deal with one-off school closures or sick days, but the current circumstances are uncharted territory for us all.
Below are a few of the wide-ranging but helpful tips our colleagues have exchanged:
WHEN DO YOU WORK WITH KIDS AT HOME?
♦ Now that my kids are home indefinitely, I have adjusted my workday and begin work around 6:00 am. This usually gives me at least two hours of uninterrupted quiet time to focus on projects. Getting a jump start on my day helps me feel a lot less stressed later in the day when family interruptions inevitably occur, and it also gives me some grace to take a midday break and spend some time with my kids.
♦ Working from home with kids means accepting that your time will be divided. When your kids are occupied, try to be as productive as you can in those windows of time.
HOW DO YOU SET HEALTHY BOUNDARIES?
♦ I tell my kids to think of my office door as a stoplight. A closed door = red light: I’m on the phone or working on something that requires full concentration. A cracked door = yellow light: I’m available if needed, but use good judgement with interruptions. An open door = green light: Bring your crafts or books in my office and we can keep each other company while working. Since my husband and I are both working from home right now, we coordinate schedules to ensure one of us is “on yellow or green” at all times.
♦ With my son at home, I find that I move my computer around the house more. I work in my office when something needs my full attention, but when I can, I move to the kitchen table in order to offer him support for learning and spend time with him. When I’m on the phone, he knows to write me a note rather than interrupt.
TO SCHEDULE OR NOT TO SCHEDULE? FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU.
♦ A specific schedule helps my kids. They seem less stressed with the structure in place.
♦ We are giving our kids a list of activities each day that range from reading and crafting to games and educational apps, but they get to choose what they do and when. Unless it’s free time—which we’ve designated as prior to 9:00 am, between 11:30 am - 1:00 pm, or after 4:00 pm—they must be doing one of the activities on that list. Free time is theirs to use for TV and electronics. We’re leaving room for flexibility, but this basic guide has helped us all in structuring the day.
♦ I’ve abandoned trying to figure out a schedule. I know a lot of people are trying to do this for normalcy, but the fact is, it’s not normal having our kids home with us while trying to work. A schedule can add to the stress. My son has his school work and he does a task from it every hour. Otherwise, he is crafting, inventing, drawing, reading, and enjoying a little screen time.
♦ Get your kids involved in planning their daily schedule and activities. If they have a say in how the day is spent, it’s more likely to go smoothly and therefore give you more order as you’re trying to work.
HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR KIDS OCCUPIED WHILE YOU WORK?
♦ Family members make great “babysitters” over FaceTime, and it brings everyone cheer while practicing social distancing. I especially try to plan a FaceTime call for my kids when I have an important meeting or project that needs undivided attention, and the kids don’t even miss me! They also play online games against family members using the GamePigeon app.
♦ We are relying on educational apps and have also had good success with quick breaks throughout the day to kick a ball, blow bubbles, or have a dance party.
♦ We try to get outside a few times a day, but when the weather doesn’t allow, we play Just Dance and the Ring Fit Game on the Switch. We have also gotten a lot of use out of our company-provided Wellbeats subscription for virtual workouts.
♦ We are taking full advantage of everyone who is putting out online content: Lunch Doodles with Mo is a highlight in our house and helps break up the monotony of mom and dad all day long!
FOR THOSE WITHOUT ONLINE SCHOOLING OPTIONS, WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO PROMOTE LEARNING AT HOME?
♦ We've been using this unexpected time all together at home as an opportunity to teach our kids new responsibilities around the house such as laundry. We're trying to promote this time as a family team effort and that we're all pulling together.
♦ Learning at our house during this time of social distancing consists of card games, Scrabble, cooking together as a family, and reading extra books. We’ve also enjoyed virtual field trips to zoos and museums around the world and have made sock puppets, built Lego sets, baked cupcakes, painted rocks—anything to keep spirits high and creativity flowing.
"Even with two decades of experience as a 100% virtual workplace, our company is facing unique remote-work challenges in these current circumstances."
"Even with two decades of experience as a 100% virtual workplace, our company is facing unique remote-work challenges in these current circumstances,” said CEO Tony Perlak. “Our leadership team is striving to reassure our team that we understand these challenges and that ultimately, their health and wellbeing is our first priority. We trust our team to meet our customers’ needs and therefore will continue to work with each team member on the schedule that works best for them in these unprecedented times.”